spiced plum jam red chile (enchilada) sauce huckleberry shrub and huck gin fizz cocktail salmon corn chowder


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archive for baking

the month i love

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Recipe: huckleberry crisp

Helloooooo September! There’s something wonderful about a month that means you get to add one to your age, a month which ushers in the fall colors, a month where the likelihood of an early season snowstorm is quite high. It is a particularly busy time for us, making it all the more astounding that we managed to have friends up for dinner over the weekend. It feels like all of the unfinished business of summer (or the year, for that matter) is being crammed into the few remaining weeks leading to autumn, before we begin hunkering down for winter (which I welcome with fully open arms). You never have enough time to get everything done no matter how little sleep you get.


dinner party with awesome friends, new and old

chocolate espresso cheesecake, chocolate cookie crust, whipped cream, helliemae’s chili palmer salt caramel sauce

in two days we had four queen of the night blossoms open!

starting to close by early morning



This is a magical period in our Rocky Mountains. Waking up before sunrise isn’t as puke-inducing as it was two months ago, and yet I can still find lovely huckleberries in the backcountry. Yes, the obsession is ongoing and all-consuming. Last week Jeremy and I went for a hike and stopped to pick hucks on our way back to the trailhead. After 90 minutes, I had collected three times as many berries as he had. I fired him (nicely) and he was happy for it, so everyone wins. It’s most fun to pick hucks with someone who loves picking them as much as I do, which is why my friend, Erin, is the perfect hiking and huck-picking companion. First of all, her dog is awesome. Secondly, Erin is my pragmatic, even-keeled, no nonsense, independent mountain gal pal. There is a lot to be said for a friendship that is free of drama and full of huckleberries.

lots of hucks!!!



I’m realizing that the huckleberries I foraged last year were at the very very tail end of the season. They were small and more red than purple. This year’s haul is full of choice purple-blue FAT berries that are as big as small blueberries, but taste way the hell better! So my rate of huck gathering has doubled thanks to the abundance and general hugeness of the the berries. This means I’m a little more willing to make something that requires a lot of berries as I have already got a good stash in my chest freezer to carry us through to next summer. Pies and crisps are the sort of recipes that demand high volumes of huckleberries. Twelve cups of hucks is a lot of hours of labor, but I really wanted to make a crisp – so I made a couple of individual crisps.

sugar, rolled oats, huckleberries, butter, melted butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, more sugar, almond slices, flour, port



**Jump for more butter**

little piggies

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Recipe: porcini mushroom lasagne

We have somehow worm-holed into autumn this week because the weather turned cool, windy, and stormy in the mountains. I rather like it. I mean, I LOVE IT! But I know summer will return this weekend just in time for the Labor Day holiday. I suppose that is a good thing. Actually, it has all been very good. Rains this late in summer mean that our wildflowers at the highest elevations continue to crank out their colors. Combined with good sun exposure, it also brings the huckleberries! Erin and I discovered the MOTHERLODE on a hike and picked beautiful, fat, dark purple, ripe huckleberries for hours through rain, sun, more rain, and more sun. The mountain streams look healthy and full (as opposed to dangerously full or sadly low) and the risk for wildfires reduces with all of this lovely moisture. Most of all, we get some beautiful moments from the volatile weather.


sunrise double rainbow from my deck!

bull moose chillaxing in the willows (he’s lying down – he’s huge when standing up!)

two of my favorite hiking buddies: erin and banjo

my favoritest hiking pal: jeremy (and stormy weather on the divide)

star gentian in full bloom streamside



In addition to all of this mountain goodness, we recently found porcini. Typically I would expect them to be wormed out and mushy this late in the season, but porcini like the rain. Actually, they like a combination of different things: rain, humidity, the right soil, sun… Given a choice, I choose huckleberries over porcini. But if the porcini (porcino means piglet in Italian) are recently flushed and solid, the worms are less likely to have begun their buffet and the stipes will be solid and crisp like a raw potato. In my mind, those are perfect little piggy jems.

many perfect piggy jems



I absolutely love finding porcini. It is such a thrill and a rush akin to an adult Easter egg hunt – but way the hell better! Yet I am not unlike the way Kaweah was with squirrels. Once she caught one (she caught plenty in her youth) she didn’t know what to do with it. For me, the hunt is the best part. I don’t particularly love cleaning them, which is why I always seem to give some away. But this time I only gave a few away. The rest I kept for making some new recipes to share. I always thought a porcini lasagne would be a lovely dish to try. This pretty much works with any mushroom you can get at the store, but the porcini are especially meaty with a beautifully delicate earthy flavor.

lasagne noodles, parsley, sage, thyme, prosciutto, parmesan, asiago, olive oil, flour, onion, garlic, white pepper, salt, butter, black pepper, milk, porcini (not pictured: nutmeg)

clean the porcini with a mushroom brush or damp paper towel – don’t wash them in water!

slice about 3/8-inch thick



**Jump for more butter**

everything is awesome

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

Recipe: hot chorizo sweet onion dip

After spending a scorching day on the flats, Jeremy and I sat down the other evening to dinner and a movie in our living room. We don’t watch a lot of movies and there was a long list to choose from online. Both our brains were fried from the heat and a long day, so we agreed on The Lego Movie. We loved it. And now I have that song “Everything is Awesome” in my head. But you know what? Everything *IS* awesome.


pretty blanket flowers are blooming in our yard

mom and dad had us over for this delicious feast they prepared

toasting to life



Jeremy left for an out-of-town meeting on Saturday morning. I always worry that he’ll get stranded on the tarmac and starve, so I packed him a brie, prosciutto, and mixed greens sandwich on a baguette. And an apple. And potato chips. And some cookies. And a chocolate croissant. He departed for the airport late enough in the morning that it was already too warm for me to do a long trail run, but it was still early enough to grab a hike under wonderfully cloudy skies. So we drove in opposite directions from our neighborhood and I hiked into the high country. It’s been dry here, which would explain the utter lack of mushrooms (of any kind) on the trails of late. I’ve been scoping my huckleberries as well as the mushrooms. We need rain. They need rain. The mushrooms demand it!

I hoofed it up the trail at a good clip singing “Everything is Awesome” in my head. About an hour up, I approached a bend in the trail. My eyes are always scanning the woods around me for mushrooms, for wildlife, and for people (it’s the people you have to watch out for). I hadn’t encountered anyone all morning until a black bear stepped out of the forest onto the trail 20 feet in front of me. It had a full, healthy, black coat and looked to be an adolescent bear, slightly taller than a Great Dane and much fatter. My face lit up as I froze in place to avoid startling it. My gut instinct was to reach for my camera, but it was in my backpack. It hadn’t seen me yet. The bear was looking uphill as it strolled across the trail – doo dee doo dee doo. Then it casually turned to look around and spotted me. My presence gave that poor fellow a start and then the bear high-tailed it straight into the woods.

There was a huge smile on my face and I looked around to see if anyone else had seen the bear, but I was alone. It was my first bear sighting in our local mountains (I’ve seen them in town – sad…) and it was the healthiest, most handsome black bear I’ve ever seen. Note: black bears can be black, brown, cinnamon, even buff in color. I took a few steps forward to check if it was hanging out in the woods, but it was far away. And then I spotted my first porcini of the season. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME.


i named this one miguel



Jeremy was concerned that I would be sad and missing Kaweah in the house by myself. I do miss her, but I only tear up once or twice a day now. My folks came over for dinner Sunday evening because they think terrible things will befall me when Jeremy is out of town. I greeted them with a recipe that I had been wanting to make for years. It’s Todd and Diane’s adaptation of their awesome sweet onion dip and it is just as cracktastically addictive.

mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, cream cheese, black pepper, chorizo, sweet onion

brown the chorizo

dice the onion



**Jump for more butter**